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March 05, 2006

Ha'aretz Print Edition's Subtle Selectivity

Nazareth rioting.jpg
Israeli Arabs riot following the attack on the Basilica of the Annunciation/Photo by AP

On Friday night, a Jewish Israeli man, his Christian wife, and their daughter entered a Christian holy site in Nazareth and detonated fireworks. As the online edition of Ha'aretz reported today:

The Tiberias Magistrate's Court issued Saturday evening a 15-day remand extension for the three family members suspected of detonating fireworks in the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth the night before.

One of the suspects, Violet Habibi, collapsed on the way out of the courthouse. An ambulance arrived at the scene to give her medical treatment.

Police rescued the Habibi family members from the church after they detonated fireworks during a prayer service.

But today's print edition of Ha'aretz singles out the Jewish man in a headline and the lead paragraph. The headline reads:

Riots follow attack in crowded Nazareth church

Authorities move to restore calm after Jewish man set off firecrackers inside basilica

And the lead paragraph states:

Thousands of people marched through Nazareth yesterday afternoon to protest Friday night's incident during which a Jewish man detonated firecrackers in the Basilica of the Annunication in an act that his daughter said was motivated by "economic distress."

Two paragraphs later, readers learn that the Jewish man, Haim Habibi did not act alone, but was joined by his Christian wife Violette and their daughter Odelia.

Given the explosiveness of issues concerning holy sites in Israel and the Palestinian areas, media outlets must take extra care to report on tensions with extreme precision. An earlier example of a media misrepresentation about an attack on a holy site is (mis)coverage of the 1969 attack by an Australian Protestant Al Aksa Mosque.

(Hat tip: Mickey S.)

Posted by TS at March 5, 2006 04:19 AM


Now Haaretz calls the firecracker throwers a "Jewish family":

"President Moshe Katsav condemned Saturday a Jewish family's attack on a major Catholic holy site the night before, urging religious leaders to not let the incident harm relations between Jews and Christians in Israel."

"Hadash Chairman MK Mohammed Barakeh warned, "The issue is not who carried out yesterday's attack in Nazareth, but rather who is next in line. All of the these criminals are known to security officials, who bear the responsibility of arresting them and preventing further attacks on the Arab public.""

This is an interesting standard. Applying such a standard would have many Arab MKs arrested.

Who should be arrested here?:

"In Ghajar, Druze villagers had burned down dozens of Christian-owned businesses after rumors spread that Christian youths disseminated naked pictures of Druse girls on the Internet. No evidence has been found to substantiate the rumors, but villagers said they fueled longstanding tension in the divided village."

"Israeli Arab Knesset members responded angrily to the Friday evening attack. "Such an act is proof of the fact that radical right-wing and settler terror groups feel they are free to perform their crimes, both in the territories and in Israel, against the Arab population," said Hadash Chairman MK Mohammed Barakeh."

It is safe to assume that someone who appealed to Arafat for protection should not be described as "radical right-wing and settler".

Posted by: Michael at March 6, 2006 09:18 AM

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